One week after a pitching duel for the ages, the Braves head to where LeBron took his talents to face off with the Marlins one again in today’s series preview.
As we head into the Marlins territory, it is important to note how well the Marlins have played at home this season. With a 9-4 record, the Marlins staff has done a bulk of their best pitching performance in the shadow of that horrendous statue. And last but absolutely not least, check out tonight’s starting pitcher.
7:10 PM EST, Tuesday, April 29th
7:10 PM EST, Wednesday, April 30th
7:10 PM EST, Thursday, May 1st
How to Fry the Fish:
Simply put, handle their outfielders. Giancarlo Stanton may be the biggest bat by far, but Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna have been major contributors to the surprising Marlins offense in the early going. You can pitch around Stanton in some situations, depending on how much you fear Casey McGehee, but letting leadoff hitter Yelich on base is ill advised. Yelich has gotten on base at a .421 clip while leading off an inning, and is a threat to run, a perfect 4 for 4 in steals so far in 2014.
Jose Fernandez proved unhittable for the strikeout prone Braves last week and there isn’t too much to say about ways to hit Fernandez. He’s simply that good. I couldn’t even begin to try and explain how to approach him, so when I had the opportunity to do another Q&A session with our Fansided Marlin’s site, Marlin Maniac, I made sure to ask editor Ehsan Kassim to help describe what it would take for the Braves to handle Fernandez, amongst other things.
Brandon Woodworth: With the Braves pitching on a historical level, how can the Marlins squeak across that extra run or two that they couldn’t manage last week? Are there any lineup configurations or matchups the Marlins can feed off of?
Ehsan Kassim: The Marlins struggles this season have not been about getting men on base, rather getting them to cross the plate. For the Marlins to score runs on the Braves strong pitching, they’ll need to put the ball in play and find holes with runners on base. The Braves pitchers will see a different Marlins lineup this series, as the team owns a .349 wOBA at home compared to a .281 wOBA on the road. This could play a factor into the series.
BW: Who do we have to look for in this series?
EK: The Jose Fernandez-Alex Wood rematch kicks off a series that has a trio of intriguing pitching matchups. I am looking forward to the Harang-Eovaldi matchup, as both of them seemed to be on top of their games last time out in Atlanta. The finale sets up the first look of the season for the Braves at Henderson Alvarez and the Marlins at Ervin Santana. It’s hard to imagine that this is the worst matchup of the series, as both pitchers have pitched really well of late.
BW: What can the Braves do to defeat Jose Fernandez?
EK: Last time out, it not only seemed to be tough for hitters to beat Jose Fernandez, it seemed like it was impossible. And Fernandez pitches even better at home than he does on the road. The number one key for the Braves will be to put the ball in play, as strikeouts are the most unproductive out possible. If they can make contact, the pressure will be off of them and on the Marlins defense to make a play. An error here and there from the defense could put Fernandez into a deep pitch count and knock him off his game. Hopefully the Braves hitters don’t read this before the game.
BW: What are your realistic expectations for this team come September? The Phillies have looked dreadful, the Nationals have struggled and are now faced with a least two months without Bryce Harper, and the Mets have snuck into second despite not hitting the ball very well at all. Is there a chance this Marlins club could be a wild card team?
EK: I had the Marlins pegged as an 74-76 win team coming into the season. I see no reason to change that thinking at this time. The Marlins struggles on the road will prevent them from being a legitimate wild card contender. Also, besides Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins still lack a hitter that strikes fear into the hearts of the opposing pitcher. As the season wears on, Giancarlo is going to get pitched around more and more. That’s when we’ll see what the Marlins hitters can do behind him.
BW: What are your predictions for this series?
EK: I like the Marlins chances to continue to their winning ways at home, taking two of three from the Braves. The Marlins win the first two behind strong starts from Fernandez and Eovaldi, respectively. The finale will also be a tight game, but the Braves beat the Marlins bullpen late in the game to avoid the sweep.
I’d like to than Ehsan for his time and some great insight into this Marlins team who could possibly be a surprise contender in the long run. For Marlins news and the best insight around, I invite you to check out Marlin Maniac for all your needs.